In its March 15, 2018, decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Fiduciary Rule that expanded the definition of an investment advice fiduciary under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Under the Fiduciary Rule, investment brokers were going to be required to put the interest of their clients before their own when advising about individual retirement accounts (IRA) and 401(k) plans. Read our blog post on the rule from April 11, 2016.
According to the Fifth Circuit’s decision, “[t]he Fiduciary Rule … bears hallmarks of ‘unreasonableness’ … and arbitrary and capricious exercises of administrative power.” In other words, the court found that the DOL exceeded its authority with the Fiduciary Rule. Additionally, through its ruling, the court agreed with the plaintiffs’ claims that “the Rule is inconsistent with the governing statutes, the DOL overreached to regulate services and providers beyond its authority, the DOL’s imposed legally unauthorized contract terms to enforce the new regulations, the Rule violates the First Amendment, and it is arbitrary and capricious in the treatment of variable and fixed indexed annuities.”
For the time being, the Fiduciary Rule has been overturned, but the issue may be pursued in the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the authority to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
Read the decision